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News Item

EV Charging station speed management

April 21, 2021

How many public charging stations are there?

There are now thousands of public charging stations. According to Zap-Map, which monitors the UK’s charging infrastructure, there are currently around 4,800 locations providing almost 7,500 individual chargers. What’s more, those numbers are continually increasing, with 700 new locations added in the past year alone. With growth at this rate, it won’t be long before charging stations outnumber the UK’s 8,500 petrol and diesel stations.


Who runs the charging stations?

The UK’s charging station network is owned and operated by several different companies. Most of these are energy firms, and many require you to register with them and carry a swipe card to use their machines, although some offer a smartphone app to make life easier. If you’re planning on using your electric car or plug-in hybrid for long journeys and are likely to visit lots of different regions, you’ll probably need to register with more than one provider. 

It costs just under £8 a month to subscribe to Polar, the country’s largest provider, but 80% of its stations are free for subscribers. Those who own a Tesla Model S or Model X can make use of Tesla’s ‘Supercharger’ network for free, while Zero Carbon World requires no subscription and charges nothing for using its charging stations. There are also a number of regional companies with their own networks.

The only provider of motorway charging points is Ecotricity, which has 145 public stations at motorway and A-road services around the UK, providing around 300 individual chargers. These used to be free, but now cost £6 for 30 minutes’ use – although those who get their domestic electricity supply from Ecotricity are eligible for 52 free charges a year. Ecotricity came in for a bit of stick when they introduced pricing to their stations, but the company says the move was made partly to prevent PHEV owners from hogging the free points for too long, when they have petrol engines as back-up; Ecotricity wants to make sure enough access is available to those whose purely electric vehicles have low batteries.

Slow charging. Rate: 3kW. If you charge your car from ‘empty’ (either at home or at a station), a full slow charge will take around eight hours.

Fast charging. Rate: 7-22kW. A fast charging point will take around three to four hours to fully replenish an electric car’s batteries from zero charge. The majority of public charging stations offer this rate, and you can also have a fast charge box installed at home.

Rapid charging. Rate: 43-50kW. Only a few electric cars are compatible with rapid charging, but if you own a car such as the Tesla Model S or Kia Soul EV, a rapid charger will give you an 80% charge in as little as 30 minutes. Public charging points that offer rapid charging aren’t as common as fast chargers (Zap-Map puts their numbers at just under 1,000), but Tesla has its own proprietary network for use exclusively with its cars.

Remember that not all cars can accept fast charging. The entry-level Nissan Leaf, for example, can accept a maximum charge rate of 3.7kW. This means it’ll take around eight hours to fully charge. Go for Nissan’s 6.6kW option and that time halves.


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